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Army Sgt. Michael D. Acklin II

Died November 15, 2003 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

25, of Louisville, Ky.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.

Soldier killed in Iraq remembered by family and friends

By Bruce Schreiner

Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — U.S. Army Sgt. Michael D. Acklin II was remembered Nov. 26 as a devoted soldier whose dream of entering the ministry ended with his death in Iraq.

Acklin’s family and friends stood and saluted his flag-draped coffin during his funeral at Christ Temple Apostolic Church in his hometown.

“Unrealized dreams and aspirations have been dashed by this untimely death,” said his pastor, Bishop Michael E. Ford Sr.

Acklin, 25, was among 17 soldiers who died this month when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Military officials have not determined the cause of the crash, which was the worst single loss of American life since the war began.

During the funeral, Acklin’s parents were given the Purple Heart and Bronze Star their son was awarded posthumously. He was their only child.

A picture of Acklin in his Army uniform was displayed next to the coffin. A collage of photos nearby traced his life from boyhood to the Army. One photo showed Acklin with an arm around his father.

Acklin, known as “Mikie” to family and friends, was remembered for his “quiet peace,” Ford said. Acklin aspired to attend bible college after the Army, Ford said, and the young sergeant “fought the good fight of a soldier and he fought the good fight of faith.”

“Michael, for your ultimate sacrifice, we are a grateful church, we are a grateful city and we are a grateful nation,” Ford said.

“So we pause to salute your life and your sacrifice and to bid you farewell, as we know you are in the very presence of God now.”

Acklin was a member of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, which straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery.

His pastor while at Fort Campbell, the Rev. Frederick Irwin of New Testament Christian Church in Hopkinsville, remembered Acklin for his “big heart” and for his strong character, devotion and loyalty.

U.S. Rep. Anne Northup, who attended the funeral, said Acklin was “a gift to his community and to this country.”

“He has proven that the greatest generation isn’t in the past, but they live among us today, and they inspire us every day,” she said.

State Rep. Reginald Meeks of Louisville also attended the funeral.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Mitchell said that Acklin, his cousin, “epitomized selfless service.” He said his cousin was a good soldier who also was part of “God’s army.”

Acklin continued a family tradition by joining the military. His great-grandfather served in World War II and his grandfather in the Korean War, Mitchell said.

Ford, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, called war the “least effective option available to man,” and said it should be reserved as a last option. Yet, he said, the United States cannot be passive when threatened by terrorism.

“There has to be a response to evil,” Ford said. “Now you may not agree with the response that our commander in chief has taken, and you have a perfect right to your opinion, and we soldiers will fight for your right to disagree with us, but evil has to be confronted.”

Acklin was buried in Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville.

Louisville soldier killed in crash was following in family footsteps

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A Kentucky soldier killed in a helicopter crash in northern Iraq was following in the footsteps of his grandfather when he joined the military, his family said Monday.

“My husband would always tell his grandson, ‘You’re not a man until you go in the service. The service will make a man out of you,”’ said Barbara Acklin, grandmother of Michael D. Acklin Jr.

“And when Michael entered and when he did come back home, we saw that change,” she said.

Acklin, 25, was one of 17 soldiers killed Saturday in Mosul, Iraq, when two Black Hawk helicopters collided.

Military officials have not determined the cause of the crash, which was the deadliest single incident since the Iraq war began March 20.

Acklin joined the Army in 1998. The Louisville native was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery of the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell. Fort Campbell has lost at least 50 of its soldiers in the war.

“My son, when I talked to him two weeks ago, he expressed to me that he felt that the situation was getting worse,” Michael Acklin Sr. said.

“He fought and died trusting in Jesus,” Acklin Sr. said. “That was what motivated his life.”

— Associated Press

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